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We all know and love a crisp fall apple, or the smell of an apple scented candle in the kitchen, but is apple good firewood?
Apples have been a favorite fruit of many cultures for centuries, enjoyed both fresh and cooked.
That's not all this tree has to offer though - the apple tree is surprisingly versatile!
Many other parts of the tree can be used as well, such as bark boiled into a medicinal tea, applesauce made from mature apples that aren't so good to eat straight off the tree, apple cider vinegar fermented from the leftover cores and peels after juicing or eating fresh apples, and more.
But perhaps most importantly - and often overlooked - the wood from the apple tree is surprisingly versatile and useful in a number of aspects, from using it to smoke meats on the grill to burning it as firewood.
Let's take a closer look!
As a tree not native to North America, the apple tree originated in Kazakhstan, which is in Central Asia east of the Caspian Sea.
The capital of Kazakhstan is named Alma Ata which means “full of apples.”
A desired fruit, the seeds of the apple tree were carried throughout much of Europe and also into Greece and Rome, exposing it to most parts of these regions by 1500 BC.
Apple is a member of the genus Malus and is cultivated primarily for its fruit.
It is grown throughout the world in temperate climates.
A relatively short tree, the apple tree typically reaches heights of only 13 to 30 feet, with a crown that is often as wide as the height.
Through selection for agricultural purposes, the limbs of the apple tree grow closer to the ground now, meant for easier pruning and picking.
Apple is a deciduous hardwood and is categorized as such.
The Janka hardness ratings help us determine if a tree is a hardwood, so with a rating of 1730 lbf, apple is significantly harder than most other trees in this category.
Apple is a dense hardwood as well, which makes it suitable for tasks like furniture making and woodworking.
Apple is an excellent choice for woodworking, as previously mentioned, but is really only well-suited for finer woodworking.
That's because it lacks longer, wider boards, which can limit how it is used in larger projects.
Plus, apples typically grow in a crooked, twisted manner.
Trees are often modified to keep the branches closer to the ground, so the trunk tends to be short and lacks clear, clean boards.
That said, apple lumber is hard and dense, making it a good choice for turning.
It is often used in the creation of tool handles and mallet heads, as well as in carving.
Apple wood is light red to grayish brown.
Sometimes, it even has a combination of these two colors.
When finished, apple lumber is absolutely breathtaking to behold, and often, the color variations are even more enhanced in this format.
Of course, it is the fruit of these trees that serves as the primary reason for why the tree is so widely spread and has been frequently cultivated throughout the years.
Apples are a healthy and natural food, delivering pectins, fiber, and countless vitamins and minerals.
Apple wood is an excellent choice for grilling and smoking meats and fish.
Wood chips and chunks are available for these cooking options, adding a wonderful flavor to food.
And of course, firewood is another common use for apple wood.
Though not a commercially sold firewood, people living near orchards can often pick up apple firewood during pruning season and especially when an older orchard is cut down and replaced with new trees.
The wood is usually smaller in diameter but makes a very hot and long-lasting fire.
Is apple good firewood to split by hand?
Apple firewood has a tendency to be twisted and crooked.
This makes it tough to split with a maul or axe.
A wood splitter, if available, will allow for a much less exhausting task.
If you can, try to split apple firewood when green or fresh-cut.
Apple will harden as it dries, making it even more difficult to split later on.
Apple tends to be a bit drier than other hardwoods.
Some people find that their apple wood is suitably dry in just three to ten months, though it's best to give it a full year to ensure it's fully dry.
As is the case with any other type of firewood, stacking and storing apple the right way is essential.
Be sure to keep it up and off the ground to allow for proper ventilation.
It's a good idea to use old pallets or logs to keep it elevated.
Stack your apple firewood in locations that receive ample sun and wind.
This can cut the drying time down substantially, as can keeping the tops of the stacks covered.
That said, you should never cover the stacks all the way to the ground, as this will actually hinder drying and could also encourage mold growth.
The best and most ideal option for drying your firewood is in a woodshed with adequate airflow.
Burning apple is not unlike burning firewood of any of the other dense hardwood species.
It burns strong with a sweet aroma, creating a nice bed of coals.
It has a high heat output, releasing 27 million BTUs per cord of firewood.
It also produces minimal smoke, making it an ideal firewood for inside wood stoves or for outdoor campfire use.
Due to its very dense nature, apple, like oak and maple, hold a fire for an extremely long period of time.
Apple wood is prone to sparking and spitting but only in a slight amount.
The density of the wood aids in minimizing the sparking.
Creosote also is minimal, as apple burns extremely hot.
This keeps soot burned away.
As with any firewood, how you burn it also dictates creosote buildup.
Hot, clean fires always produce less creosote than a fire allowed to smolder.
If you have access to apple firewood, it's definitely worth burning.
Apple wood is a harder wood, so it will last longer and put off more heat than softer woods.
The downside is that it can be more difficult to find apple wood for sale.
But if you do come across some, don't hesitate to stock up - as they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!